2021 Gold Cup Guide

Cheltenham - March 19 2021
Cheltenham 15:05
1
Paul Townend

Al Boum Photo

J:
 
Paul Townend
T:
 
W P Mullins
Age: 9
Weight: 11-10
OR: 175
Days: -40

Al Boum Photo has been the winner of the Grade Three Savills Chase at Tramore on New Year's Day for the last three seasons and after winning that event has gone on to land the Gold Cup in the last two years.

Straight after this seasons race Mullins was not overjoyed with the superstars performance, but on reflection was a little harsh on his stable star after the nine year old went on to beat stablemate Acapella Bourgeois by 19 lengths.

He is looking to make history this season by becoming the fourth horse to win the the race three years on the bounce and Mullins has explained how well he is working at home.

This year's renewal looks tougher than last year with Champ and A Plus Tard offering much different opposition to what he has seen over the last few years.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
22/05/22AUT30VSft10-10PU
27/04/22PUN24Gd/Y11-103
18/03/22CHL26.5GS11-106
01/01/22TRM22Sft/Hy11-101
28/04/21PUN24.5Y11-122
Cheltenham - March 19 2021
Cheltenham 15:05
5
Nico de Boinville

Champ

J:
 
Nico de Boinville
T:
 
Nicky Henderson
Age: 9
Weight: 11-10
OR: 165

The superstar Champ pulled off the performance of the 2020 Cheltenham festival when jumping the last in the RSA well behind the two tiring leaders but managing to fly up the hill, staying the best of the field and just getting up on the line to land the Grade One.

Before that race he lost his unbeaten record over fences when falling two out at Cheltenham on New Year's Day, but at the festival he put everything right and looks to be a hell of a staying horse.

The Gold Cup is the big target for the horse this term and with that in mind the Seven Barrows team have been slightly more cautious with him and what races he is entered in.

With Henderson having other horses also in that division he has found it difficult to give Champ a starting point this season, but with it becoming desperately close to the festival, the handler has now bit the bullet.

It looked as though the gelding would be starting his season off over in Ireland in the Savills Chase over Christmas, but Henderson felt the Leopardstown contest was coming too soon after his wind operation as the handler admitted that the star had undergone the procedure in August.

The Cotswold Chase became an option for Champ, but with Santini possibly running in that event it left the Denman Chase as his main target.

However, after Altior bypassed the Game Spirit Chase it left Henderson to change things around once more and he sent the superstar over two mile for the first time since 2017.

It was a superb bit of race positioning by Henderson, with Champ jumping extremely well and showing all the ability he did last season to finish a good second by Sceau Royal.

That run will have put him spot on for the event and he is a the best of the British.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
09/04/22AIN24.5GS11-73
17/03/22CHL24Sft11-104
29/01/22CHL24Gd11-62
18/12/21ASC24.5GS11-71
19/03/21CHL26.5GS11-10PU
Cheltenham - March 19 2021
Cheltenham 15:05
2
Rachael Blackmore

A Plus Tard

J:
 
Rachael Blackmore
T:
 
Henry De Bromhead
Age: 7
Weight: 11-10
OR: 169

A Plus Tard is one of the big challengers to Al Boum Photo for Henry De Bromhead with the yard flying this week landing numerous winners.

The seven year old has been a superb horse during his career, really bouncing onto the scene in 2019 when taking the old Novices' Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham festival.

Last season he again put up another superb performance at Leopardstown over Christmas, when becoming one of the very few horses to beat Chacun Pour Soi in a Grade One.

He went to Cheltenham off the back of that run in the Ryanair and when punted to run a big race, could only finish third behind Min.

Back for another term, he made his seasonal debut in the two mile Grade Two Fortria Chase at Navan, where he was narrowly beaten by Castlegrace Paddy.

It was obvious that two miles was not his trip and De Bromhead last time out sent him over three miles for the first time in his career and didn't half suit him.

In the Grade One Savills Chase he came from a long way back off the pace to snatch victory at Leopardstown and having not been seen since then should be fresh for this event.

Big chance.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
18/03/22CHL26.5GS11-101
28/12/21LEO24Y11-122
20/11/21HAY25.5GS11-71
19/03/21CHL26.5GS11-102
28/12/20LEO24Y11-121
Cheltenham - March 19 2021
Cheltenham 15:05
11
Charlie Deutsch

Royale Pagaille

J:
 
Charlie Deutsch
T:
 
Venetia Williams
Age: 7
Weight: 11-10
OR: 166

Royale Pagaille has been a superstar this season for Venetia Williams and the Ricci's and having swerved the National Hunt Chase now deserves his chance in the Gold Cup.

Having taken some time last season coming over from France, this term he has been majestic in all three of his events.

He made his seasonal debut at Haydock seeing off the smart Espoir De Romay over a staying trip, who has since gone on to frank the form.

Next time out over three miles at Kempton he managed to make it back to back wins when seeing off the smart Cap Du Nord for Christian Williams.

The gelding landed the hat-trick last time out back at Haydock in the Peter Marsh Handicap Chase, seeing off a tired field by 16 lengths.

Staying seems to be his bag, but all his victories this term have come in testing conditions and the ground at Cheltenham on Friday looks to be good, which is a negative.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
07/04/22AIN25GS11-75
18/03/22CHL26.5GS11-105
12/02/22NBY23.5GS11-62
22/01/22HAY25.5Sft11-101
20/11/21HAY25.5GS11-72
Cheltenham - March 19 2021
Cheltenham 15:05
7
Danny Mullins

Kemboy

J:
 
Danny Mullins
T:
 
W P Mullins
Age: 9
Weight: 11-10
OR: 169
Days: -40

The nine year old has been a fine chaser for the yard over the years, landing the Savills Chase in 2018 and then in 2019 going on to frank that form by taking out the Betway Bowl Chase at Aintree and the Punchestown Gold Cup.

Unfortunately last season, the star sort of lost his way when putting in lesser performances in the Savills Chase and Cheltenham Gold Cup, with Mullins looking for the star to bounce back to form this year.

He made his seasonal return at Thurles which saw him blow the cobwebs away nicely, to finish second behind Presenting Percy in a Listed event.

That put him spot on for the Savills Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas and if the race was 20 yards shorter he would have won, with A Plus Tard getting up on the line.

He backed that up last time out when landing the Grade One Irish Gold Cup at the Dublin Racing Festival and that is some good form heading into the event.

The only negative to this horse is that he hates running at Cheltenham with some poor performances in the past and he will need to put them behind him.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
27/04/22PUN24Gd/Y11-104
07/04/22AIN25GS11-73
05/02/22LEO24.5Y11-105
28/12/21LEO24Y11-123
05/12/21PUN20.5Y/Sft11-128
Cheltenham - March 19 2021
Cheltenham 15:05
12
Aidan Coleman

Santini

J:
 
Aidan Coleman
T:
 
Nicky Henderson
Age: 9
Weight: 11-10
OR: 167

Last season the eight year old made a winning start on his seasonal debut at Kempton but did leave room for improvement, he was much better next time out after undergoing a wind op which saw him race on trials day in the Cotswold Chase and he put in a mighty performance to beat Bristol De Mai over what was nearly the Gold Cup trip.

He then headed to the festival for the Cheltenham Gold Cup and although rallying in the final stages, had to settle for a narrow second behind dual winner Al Boum Photo.

The staying star for the yard made a satisfactory return to racing this season when having a good racecourse gallop at Newbury and then headed to Aintree for the Many Clouds Chase and finished a narrow second to Lake View Lad.

Although not winning the race he showed his staying ability in tricky conditions and with many fences being bypassed due to the low sun on the day it did not play to his strengths.

The plan after that race was to get him ready at home for this event which he landed last term, but connections and trainer instead decided to run him in the Kempton feature King George VI Chase and after forking out £5,000 to supplement him they were expecting a big run.

Unfortunately, having looked like he was coming with a challenge he could only finish fifth, fading in the latter stages of the race.

He was last seen in the Grade Two Cotswold Chase at Sandown, where the heavy ground went against him and he could only finish a long way third behind the veteran Native River.

Although he has put up some poor performnaces this season, getting back to his ideal quick ground conditions and the addition of the Visor, last year's second could go close at a nice price.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
09/04/22AIN34.5GS11-24
18/03/22CHL26.5GS11-108
29/01/22CHL25.5Gd11-22
10/12/21CHL26GS11-124
19/03/21CHL26.5GS11-10PU
Cheltenham - March 19 2021
Cheltenham 15:05
9
Jack Kennedy

Minella Indo

J:
 
Jack Kennedy
T:
 
Henry De Bromhead
Age: 8
Weight: 11-10
OR: 164

The eight year old has raced 12 times during his short career and has only finished outside the top three in his point to point and last start when falling.

Two seasons ago on his final two starts over hurdles he really came to life landing the Grade One Albert Bartlett at the festival at a huge price of 50/1 and then backed that up at the Punchestown festival when landing another classy Grade One.

He went novice chasing last season and after running well on debut behind star mare Laurina, he landed a Beginners Chase at Navan before narrowly being beaten in the RSA Novices' Chase at the festival, With Champ pipping him on the line.

Coming out of novice company this term he started his season off at Wexford at the back end of October in the Grade Three Memorial Chase where he jumped the field into submission, going on to win the event by 25 lengths.

Having again put up another superb performance at Navan when beating Brahma Bull by close to eight lengths his handler sent him to Leopardstown at Christmas in the Grade One Savills Chase.

Going off as favourite, many were looking for the gelding to put up a big run, but were left wanting more after falling for the first time in his career with a circuit to go.

He was seen last time out returning to some sort of form by finishing his race, but overall he was outclassed in the Irish Gold Cup behind Kemboy finishing a well beaten fourth.

He looks opposable on that form but has performed well at Cheltenham in the past, so it could see him bounce back to form.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
27/04/22PUN24Gd/Y11-10PU
18/03/22CHL26.5GS11-102
05/02/22LEO24.5Y11-102
26/12/21KEM24Sft11-10PU
30/10/21DRO24Sft11-123
Cheltenham - March 19 2021
Cheltenham 15:05
6
Bryony Frost

Frodon

J:
 
Bryony Frost
T:
 
Paul Nicholls
Age: 9
Weight: 11-10
OR: 169
Days: -36

Frodon has been a superstar for the 11 time champion trainer Paul Nicholls winning some huge races including the Old Roan Chase at Aintree and the Ryanair Chase at the 2019 Cheltenham festival.

Stepped up to 3m1f in October the gelding landed the competitive Handicap Chase off top weight at Prestbury Park.

He produced a superb round off jumping giving weight away to the whole field, but last time out stepped back up in Class for the Grade two Many Clouds Chase and was well below par.

There were plenty of fences removed that day which did not suit him, but last time out he gave one of the performances of the season when winning the Grade One King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.

He went from the front and gave an expert round of jumping and if getting his own way out in front again he could land the event.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
15/03/22CHL25GS11-1212
05/02/22LEO24.5Y11-107
26/12/21KEM24Sft11-104
30/10/21DRO24Sft11-121
24/04/21SAN23Gd11-61
Cheltenham - March 19 2021
Cheltenham 15:05
10
Richard Johnson

Native River

J:
 
Richard Johnson
T:
 
Colin Tizzard
Age: 11
Weight: 11-10
OR: 172
Days: -20

Native River started last season off at Aintree in the Grade Two Many Clouds Chase and went on to take the contest by over 50 lengths, with the field including Might Bite and Black Corton.

Now slightly older Tizzard had to be more patient with him and he was given some time after the race and reappeared at Newbury in the Denman Chase which he won by four lengths for the third time in his career.

That was a perfect prep run ahead of the festival with the ground being much quicker than he usually liked but he did what he always does best and stayed better than the rest of the field.

However, he did not end up running in the Gold Cup and was seen for the first time in the race he won last year at Aintree when finishing a close third of five.

Last time out he gave one of his best performances of his career, being the age he is, he went on to land the Grade Two Cotswold Chase, seeing off Lostintranslation and Santini with ease.

Native River owes nothing to anyone having had a superb career and always running his race and a big performance in this race could see just see him go down into horse racing folklore.

Drying ground a worry though.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
27/12/21CHP30.5Sft11-12PU
04/12/21AIN25Sft11-62
08/04/21AIN25GS11-73
19/03/21CHL26.5GS11-104
06/02/21SAN24Hy11-61
Cheltenham - March 19 2021
Cheltenham 15:05
8
Robbie Power

Lostintranslation

J:
 
Robbie Power
T:
 
Colin Tizzard
Age: 9
Weight: 11-10
OR: 167

The eight year old last season started his term off at Carlisle when landing the Intermediate Chase in fine style which set him up perfectly for a tilt at the Betfair Chase against two time winner Bristol De Mai.

Having the run under his belt made the difference as he went on to stay on better than the Nigel Twiston-Davies horse up the straight and it saw him land his first black type event out of novice company.

This season, without the run before the race and the heavy conditions it saw Bristol De Mai reverse the form and overall Tizzard's horse gave a very below par performance.

In 2019 Lostintranslation headed to Kempton on Boxing Day for the King George VI Chase and nothing went right for him throughout the race with his jumping ultimately letting him down and he was pulled up before the finish.

With all roads leading for another crack at the King George, the son of Flemensfirth started his season off in the Betfair Chase at Ascot and he was well beaten into third by Bristol De Mai and Clan Des Obeaux.

Of the back of that poor run he still went to Kempton and like 2019 was pulled up in the Boxing Day feature.

Having had a wind op he returned last time out in the Denman Chase and looked like he needed the run when only seventh of the nine.

The Tizzard's have recently hit a nice patch of form with second in the Arkle and Brown Advisory Chase and he is not out of the reckoning if back to his best.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
09/04/22AIN34.5GS11-615
15/03/22CHL25GS11-38
19/02/22ASC21Sft11-7PU
26/12/21KEM24Sft11-105
20/11/21ASC21Gd11-21
Cheltenham - March 19 2021
Cheltenham 15:05
3
Daryl Jacob

Aso

J:
 
Daryl Jacob
T:
 
Venetia Williams
Age: 11
Weight: 11-10
OR: 158
Days: -20

The Venetia Williams trained animal although not winning for two years has put up some superb performances in much better races than this and now being dropped into this company, receiving weight off some in the field, it makes him a logical value bet.

The gelding finished a close second behind Frodon in the 2019 Ryanair Chase and has also finished a good third in the Grade Two Charlie Hall Chase over three miles at Wetherby.

Having been racing in tough events, his mark finally started to drop and two starts ago at Warwick nearly made that count when second behind Two For Gold.

He then headed to Kelso at the start of March in the Listed Premier Handicap Chase and he was a well beaten second behind Grand National favourite Cloth Cap.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
13/02/22EXE24.5Sft11-123
08/01/22SAN24Hy11-12PU
01/12/21HAY25.5Hy11-92
13/11/21CHL20Gd11-1113
08/04/21AIN25GS11-75
Cheltenham - March 19 2021
Cheltenham 15:05
4
Tom Scudamore

Black Op

J:
 
Tom Scudamore
T:
 
Tom George
Age: 10
Weight: 11-10
OR: 147
Days: -40

The big outsider of the race is the Tom George Black Op, who was a smart hurdler back in the day winning a Grade One and finishing second to Samcro in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival, but has not looked the same horse over fences.

Having finished second to Champ twice last season, he then was off the track for some time and returned after 11 months off over 2m4f at Carlisle to finish fourth of six runner in the Listed event.

This set him up for the Grade Three Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury and he could only finish ninth of the 18 runners never getting involved.

His connections did not give up on him after that and pitched him into the Grade One King George VI Chase on Boxing Day, but unfortunately again it was outclassed.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
18/12/21ASC21GS11-16
24/10/21AIN25Gd11-125
28/04/21PUN20Y11-0F
19/03/21CHL26.5GS11-107
26/12/20KEM24GS11-106

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